Thalictrum thalictroides. Unlike many spring ephemerals that use sweets to reward pollinating visitors, the Rue-anemone has no nectar. Instead, it offers only pollen to passing insects. And though it has no scent either, the petal-like white sepals — often tinged with pink, as here — are showy enough to attract bees and flies. The bee is what it wants, for that insect collects the pollen to bring back to the hive — in the process, dropping some grains while visiting other Rue-anemone flowers and thus accomplishing pollination duties. Flies just eat the pollen right there, accomplishing little except fly survival. It and its cousin, the Wood Anemone, are both members of the Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae), many of whose members — including Rue-anemone — contain acrid substances that can blister flesh and cause poisoning if eaten in large enough quantities. This is protection against both browsing mammals and herbivore insects. Perhaps because they bloom amid the early spring breezes, anemones are called windflowers; anemone is from the Greek for “wind.”  For a long time, scientists called Rue-anemone  Anemonella thalictroides — literally, “little anemone thalictrum-like.”  Thalictrum is the generic name for meadow-rue, mostly summer-blooming plants with leaves similar to Rue Anemone’s. Around 1990, Rue-anemone was reclassified into the Thalictrum genus, but the old specific name was retained. Thus, we have the rhythmic, but seemingly silly scientific name, Thalictrum thalictroides  — “a meadow-rue that’s like a meadow-rue.”  Botanists are still debating this reclassification, so perhaps the name will change again.

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